Friday, August 30, 2013

It's been an interesting month. Coincidence?

I used to hang out with a largely Messianic internet crowd, and it was they that turned me on to the Biblical holiday observances rather than the American cultural holidays.   I did some research and  really fell for the whole idea of observing the Jewish holidays instead of the American ones (I won't call them the Christian holidays, because mostly they're not Biblical, they're far more cultural).

I ran into two problems.  1) I really LIKE the dominant holidays, particularly Christmas and Easter.  I know that the events they celebrate (the birth and resurrection of Christ) aren't at the times that we celebrate, and that bugs me - but I like celebrating those things.  And I just like Christmas.  I like the whole shebang, minus the tacky stuff.  It's got some good tradition, good sentiment.  It makes me happy.  2) Since I am not Jewish, I don't have traditions surrounding the Biblical holidays.  I don't want to culturally appropriate that which does not belong to me.  And getting it off the ground all by myself?  No fun.  "Why is Mom playing weird noise on the computer and making us eat off the good china in the middle of the week?"  "Just go with it".  It felt really fake.  The OT commandments are gone - which is good, we can't observe them anyway, not being in commuting distance of Jerusalem.

So I dropped back into "observing" them.  I knew they were coming up, I'd have a special meal, I'd mention them at table and tell the kids "and this is when God did X and the Israelites would ...." and we've continued our Passover fast/observing Good Friday with lamb.  I pay attention, in other words, but I don't try to force things.  

So with all of that, I'd forgotten about the prep month for the fall feasts... guess what this is?  Elul.  One of my old Messianic buddies mentioned it in passing and I was OH MY GOSH.  That's what this month has been.  I've cleaned my house, put my life in order, and I have people crawling out of the woodwork tying up loose ends.  None of that has been a conscious choice on my part, it's just happened.  And happened.  And keeps happening.  My head, it is spinning.  It's *good*, but... wow.  Just wow.  Not just hearing from people who I haven't heard from in a long time, but those heavy conversations... they're happening. 

Is it coincidence?  I don't think so.  Is it coincidence that we'll likely have a nice place (outside) to share meals - and that we've already got a guest list - by the time Sukkot rolls around?  Yeahh.  Sure.

Life is crazy, sometimes - especially when God is moving and you don't know where you're going!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rare Cross Post

But I'm going to ask even those of you who don't hit HHH very often to take a look at this one.

There will be a continuation of the aging discussion over there tomorrow as well, but ... well.  I don't often doing the "I'm so verklempt!" hand wave in front of my eyes while I'm concordance searching for words for blogs, but when I do?

I'm going to tell you about it.  So.   Yeah.  Go read.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We All Get Old

I hang with a lot of the crew from the land of the Red Pill... and the folks there are pushing back hard against the idea that women's looks are unimportant and that women shouldn't try to look their best for their husbands.

I can totally get behind those things.  But sometimes that ideal goes a bit over the line. 

Does the Lord tarry and intend us to stay on this planet, we'll get old.  Accident and dermatologists happen to the best of us.   We can either accept that fact, and attempt to grow older with grace, or we can fight it tooth and nail. 

Sometimes it seems like folks promise that if you just take really good care of yourself, you'll look like this when you're sixty:

I call that winning the genetic lottery.  The odds aren't that great.  For every exceptional older woman that has a young face and snow-white hair, there are 1000 women whose genetics weren't quite so kind.  Botox and plastic surgery and ... and... and... well, those are kind of crap-shoots too, aren't they?  Even rich and famous people - the people who can afford to buy the very best - sometimes the results are a little scary.  (Per my own rules, I'm sparing you bad surgery pix).

This lady's probably 80 at a guess.  She's wearing nice clothes, nice jewelry... she's doing her best.  Would you be happy if she was YOUR grandma?  Would it kill you if you knew that was the face going to look you in the mirror in another 30 or 40 or 50 years?

I describe myself occasionally as a young Mrs. Santa Claus, and if the dermatologists keep away with their knives, I'll probably look like this lady in another 20 years.  I'm working on trimming down ... but I'm not long before menopause.  I know that the weight loss stops cold at that point, sometimes reverses.  (Best to get this weight off as soon as I can).  So, get it all off, half comes back from 50-60, and then it goes away again at 70... on its own. 
Is she that hideous that you would be ashamed to wear her skin?
Our duty to our husbands and to ourselves is to represent and do our best.  Our duty is NOT to re-define best by "to look forever 25".  It's not going to happen, and breaking our hearts over improbabilities is a poor use of time and energy.
NO - I'm not saying slack off.  I am saying - give yourself the kindness you'd give a friend.  We're all going to grow old.  Let's get wrinkles we're proud of and be the kind of white-haired women that the neighborhood kids want to cuddle. 
A young woman's pride is her fertility, her potential.  She advertises her shining long hair and good teeth, strong arms.  But as you age, you're supposed to learn and grow and become more than you started.  Aren't you?  Men do.  Women should.  Life doesn't stop at your 30th birthday.  Be a woman your husband will be proud to call wife to your great-grandbabies. 
There is no wall.  There is only another room to walk through, another stage to own.  I saw ladies at the beach the other day in the over-sixty five crowd.  They were still trying for "hot'.  It made me sad.  I don't want you to think I'm hot when I'm 70.  I want you to think I'm dignified, beautiful (for my age), and that I probably have a really excellent recipe for cookies, and can you stop by to tell me your troubles?  That's what I want.  But I'm not going to pour acid on my face to de-wrinkle my skin so I look young for another year or five.  You don't really look young anyway, you look plastic.  I never, never never want to look plastic.
Be your best self, and make your husband proud. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homeschool Curricula: Done!

Whew!  That was a job!  :p  Setting up for the new year is always a bear.  First you figure out what you're doing, then you have to chop it up into bite sized bits.  THEN you carve things down into week-by-week assignments. 

Yes, the charter school does some of this for me - thank you, Lord - but I'm particular, and we do some of it ourselves.

Here's what my kiddos are doing.

4th Grader: 

Literature:         Heidi (Five Weeks)
                          Write-ups (One Week)
                        Lexia (3x/wk)
Lost in Literature (Friday)

Mathematics:    Singapore 4A:  Chapters 1-3

Writing:           Charter School Writing (Friday)

Spelling:           20 words/week, weekly exams

Grammar:        Charter School curriculum

Science:           Charter School Curriculum

History:            Charter School History (Friday)

Art:                  Art 101 (Friday)

Music:              Learn to Sing  (2x/wk)
7th Grader:
Literature:         Romeo and Juliet (Five Weeks)
                         Write-ups (One Week)
                         Reading Plus (3x/wk)
Mathematics:    Discovering Mathematics, 1a
                         Chapters 1-3
Writing:             Excellence In Writing (Friday)
 Spelling:          20 words/week, weekly exams
Grammar:        Charter School Curriculum
Science:           Charter School  Science ( Friday)
History:            Charter School Curriculum
Language:        Latin (Wheelock’s Latin)
                         Introduction, Chapters 1-3
Art:                  Art History  (1x/wk)
Music:              Learn to Sing  (2x/wk)
Debate:            Thinkers, Communicators, Achievers (Friday)
"Friday" means the classes they have on Fridays.  Some of these meet the state standards, some of them are enrichment classes.  My daughter has "Lost in Literature" which should get her enthused about literature, but is not meant to fill the lit requirement - she'll do that by reading Heidi, with me.
These are the lists I send to their "teacher" (counselor), so they don't include Bible studies - each day the children read a chapter of their Bibles, listen to Dr. McGee, and study for AWANA.  My son is being encouraged to listen to Missler's take on Genesis, as that's an interest of his.
Anyway, that's what we're doing.  And I'm doing Latin, handwriting (oops, something else not on this list) and singing with them. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Hidden Art in my Home: Reward Time!

I know I've mentioned this before - but I really don't care about cleaning or organizing.  It's not fun.  I do, however, really enjoy living in a clean home.    I like shiny well-oiled wood without dust, my bare feet vastly prefer to walk on clean floors, and I find clutter mentally noisy.  So, I clean.

This is my reward.   I *adore* flowers.  I used to stick flowers in every room when I was a girl growing up (I've mentioned that my parents' house is much easier to keep clean than mine, right? LOL).  Cut flowers are trivially cheap here - flowers are one of SoCal's main exports.  These flowers came from my garden - I thought I had more, but the rest had petal fall.


They're not only lovely, they smell wonderful!!!  Lavender roses have a lovely old-rose scent.  I put these on the counter of "everybody puts everything here" to make a little visual break between dining room and kitchen.
I've also made myself a pretty space in my bedroom, in which I can sit and sip a cup of tea and curl up with a good book (or a silly one).  I put one of the sets of roses in here... don't they just make that space?

I cleaned very energetically yesterday, today I just swanned around and swept up... this is how I'll be spending my afternoon.  Curricula!  I've sorted out what 9yo will be doing, but 13yo's curricula has a bit of work left ... I have to figure out a good balance.   (And yes, I bought the sunflowers too.  So cheerful!)  I have a bag of randomness (on the floor) to sort from my car while I'm at it.

I grew up with peace and clean and gracious living... sometimes I forget that that is the natural reward to cleaning and maintenance... and then not enjoying the fruits of my labor, I don't want to keep laboring. 

So, today I still have work to do - but I am also going to relax and enjoy what I *have* done.  There must be balance. 

I hope you enjoyed the flowers!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

You have to choose

I was doing my standard self-flogging about not being able to excel in everything on my very long to-do list... so I decided that first making a to-do list might be in order, so I could take a look at everything I want to do.

Spiritual Writing Work Chores
Intern reading writing cleaning
Daily devotions personal studies cooking
church attendance shopping, grocery
prayer, regular shopping, miscellaneous
prayer, intercessory Pet care
personal studies Laundry
Gardening, weeding
Taking care of Mom's stuff
home projects (patio project)
rest, mental
rest, physical
deep cleaning
organizing, home

Creativity Social Church Commitments Other
sewing, creative entertaining sewing, church blogging
decorating Husband time Intern reading Exercise
Gardening, pleasure social time Intern meetings extreme diet
social obligation Ride Ministry homeschooling
creation of traditions church attendance Kid wrangling
Computer morbling Planning
exhortation Gardening, pleasure
blogging recreation/nature time

Oh.  Maybe that's why I get stressed out?  It's not a complete list.  Every woman I know has a list like this in her head.  It's so hard to relax and enjoy and be in the moment with ... whatever... because you should always be doing something else.  Or you could.  I read an ad about a book exhorting you to make more of every moment in the day.  EEK.  That's the last thing I need - to feel guilty about my time management.   I'm sure I could do more, but then I start getting really behind on my "rest, mental" and it's not pretty.

You have to have a list, you have to prioritize your list.  Have your husband help you.  Men are fabulous at prioritizing.  And they don't even mind when it's "their fault" that you don't get to do something or other.  ;)  (I love submission some days).

Speaking of blogging, there's a related blog about choice in creation and why I'm glad I'm not an atheist that wants birthing... but I think I'll put that over at HHH.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stealth Covering

Having been convicted by 1 Corinthians 11 that I should cover my hair some years back, I talked to my husband briefly about it and started covering.  I've gone from full-head, most of hair covering to token covering, and everything in between.

There was a question over at Elspeth's blog about how to cover your hair ... E doesn't cover, so I'm taking the ball and running with it.

Question 1:  More important to submit to your husband, or to cover?  Absolutely to submit to your husband.  This is my conviction, my husband is good with it, but he doesn't want me to look weird.  The one and only comment I've gotten from him is "I'm not going to church with you if you wear a doily on your head".  (I actually gave that a try.  Fashion Fail).  There are multiple verses in the Bible calling for wifely submission and one verse about head-covering.  Priority check?  Submission.

Question 2:  What does the Bible say - and what does it *not* say?
1Corinthians 11:3-15 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.   For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.   For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.   Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.  Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?  Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
It appears to me that women while praying and/or prophesying are to cover their heads.  We are elsewhere admonished to pray without ceasing, which would indicate we should probably cover most of the time.  Personal application:  When I get serious prayer time, I cover my entire head.  It is also an indication of submission to your husband, and it does something in the spiritual (angelic) realm.  Some people read this set of verses to indicate that long hair is necessary and/or the full covering.

You will note that nowhere here is a real-estate provision given.  How much head to cover?  Ask God, ask your husband.  I feel better more covered, and cover more in private and in prayer.  But you will get odd looks when more covered, and insofar as I am concerned, God and the angels know when I'm putting something on my head as a symbol and when I'm just decorating.  Matter of conscience, in other words.

Question 3:  So ultimately, why do you cover?  I tried covering for a week, I really liked how it felt, in the spiritual realm.  Practically?  There can be difficulties.  But spiritually, I like it.  And emotionally, I like putting on my submission every day.

Variants of coverings:  You don't just have to put on a bandanna!  Yes, that's the current "Christian covering style" ... but that's not what the Bible says. 

Left to right:  Headbands - some fat, some regular.  Combs - some very large, they are as big as one of my hands, and they cover about as much as a yarmulke would.  Snood, hairclips, and a fake flower (I wear flowers in my hair when dressed up).  Bandannas, which is what I wear when I'm doing yardwork.  (I don't wear them out and about, too many gangbangers here and while I doubt they think 40yo women are showing colors, I don't need the stress).

My husband's favorite thing is one of the big combs and a ponytail.

Scarf and pashmina collection:  I am a big scarf girl, I am most likely to be found with a scarf tied in my hair somehow or other.  The way I have it (see top) today works best with a rougher textured fabric - the satins slide *right* out.  I still wear them of course, but it involves a lot of readjusting.
I'm not really too sure why people keep giving me shawls and pashminas, but they're pretty even if worn rarely.  :)
Long story short:  It is totally possible to wear your hair covered and still be somewhat in fashion. 
Linkies: (The Jewish ladies, IMO, have the best full-hair coverings out there.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homeschooling Stuff/Mommy Guilt

It's that time of year again, where all the Homeschooling Moms get out their curricula and hop about Google trying to figure out the perfect set of information to give their kiddos. 

Actually, I did this a while ago.  But I've been finishing things up today.  I was thinking about this - I'm a newcomer to the homeschooling game, we just started last year.  I trotted over to one of the really awesome super-intensive homeschooling sites, and you know - I could totally give myself an inferiority complex. 

I'm not gonna.

No, my kids aren't reading all of that... and they haven't discovered the cure for cancer. Oh well.  They're smart kids.  I had to de-public school the older one last year, I expect I'll be doing that with the younger one this year.  Not a lot of fun, except when you get to the end of the year and see what an incredible difference the year makes.

Sometimes people expect that smart kids will just magically pick their own destinies.  That seems to be a big pull right now in the homeschooling realm, and that's what my (former) public school expected the GATE kids to do, after they'd done their regular schooling.  At the same time that I am open to my kids finding out what they're interested in and throwing the doors open wide to whatever that subject is - guess what?  In the meantime, they need to learn.

And they're going to learn what I want them to learn.  I homeschool through a charter, which keeps me legit with the state of California.  They give me all the curricula that I want, and I can substitute in whatever I want to change.  Best of both worlds, IMO.  I don't have to worry about getting the necessary stuff in their heads, and I can supplement and change around to suit.

Seventh grade is coming up for my son, and in seventh grade I remember being given the first taste of language.  I've decided to have him learn Latin.  There are hundreds of languages to choose from... why Latin? Well, because I enjoyed my one semester of Latin and would like to learn Latin, plus it's the source language for all the Romance languages.  And medicine.  And theology.  And if you start reading anything written earlier than 1925, you'll want to know Latin for the quotes.  Does my son want to learn Latin?  He's good with it.  *I* am excited.  And you know?  That's okay.  I'm giving him something of value - a language.  I could choose a different language, and that would be a different gift.  Maybe better, maybe worse.  But different.  Maybe he'll turn out to be a polyglot and learn languages like water... who knows?  We start here.

At the moment I choose Latin for his first language, I'm taking a crossroads for him... choosing some end for him.  Is that okay?  Who gives me the right?  Maybe he'd be better off with Russian!  It's the same thing for every book I choose for his curricula, every bit of music or art or opportunity... something else is left in the cold.  Fill up his schedule?  I choose that he doesn't have contemplative time at home.  Stay at home?  I choose to not do something that he *could* be doing, could be learning.

For my daughter's "big choice" this year - I'm choosing to teach her to sing rather than get a musical instrument.  She's got a great voice, and I don't know that her little roll-up piano qualifies as something to bother learning on.  We might see about having some online piano lessons... but voice first.

Being a mom is already heavy with the guilt.  Always guilt.  Being a homeschooling mom, you have more possibilities to screw it all up...  But you do what you can and you go forward.

If my kids - either one of them - popped up and said, "I really must must must learn about donkeys" I would help them learn all they could.  But they haven't done that yet.  When they ask, I help them.  Until the day when they pick their direction in life, it's my job to give them the best fuel to get them as far along the path as I can.

I can't afford to tie myself down with guilt.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Perfectionism? Me?

Sometimes I'm just too hard on myself.

I'm not a perfectionist in the usual sense of the word.  I don't care if I get things done just right (um).  I do care that I do a lot of things.  And then I can get really mean to myself about how many things I'm getting done.

Hanging out the clothes today... I looked at how much of what I was hanging has been made by my hands, and I blinked a bit.

See, I get mad at myself for not being constantly at my sewing machine.  I have such a long list of things "to sew"... I tell myself what a slacker I am.  Why do I even have ready-made garments?  Shame!


I've made my own jewelry.  I'm a good cook.  I read and write and think.  I homeschool.  I'm a decent friend.

But I'm not perfect.  I don't make everything, even though I probably could.  I don't cook everything from scratch, even though I probably could.  My house isn't as clean as it ought to be, and I do seem to have a talent for killing household machinery.    I don't have a big enough garden, and it's not producing well enough, and I should weed every day.  I could do with more exercise, and why isn't my waistline changing more quickly?

There is *always* something in life to criticize.  But the more I am critical of myself instead of embracing positive change as an opportunity to grow and bring myself into alignment with who I am in my heart of hearts, the less able I am to move forward.  And I get snarky and not fun to be around.

Change isn't easy.  And no one is perfect.  Just move.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Loveliness: Home Decoration and Self-Revelation

I've been reading, "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer, and one of the chapters was about interior decoration.  I thought her statement that we reflect ourselves in the environment that we create for ourselves, regardless of whether we do this with thought or if it simply forms around us through habit or carelessness, was worthy of contemplation. 

I don't know very many people whose every decoration is placed by the hand of an interior decorator - even if that decorator is themselves.  Objects end up in spots for all sorts of reasons!  That said, one must realize that what you see reflects who you are, and what you think of yourself, at least on some level.  It also speaks of yourself to those around you.

I spent time at my mom's house today, and as I sat in her living room, I realized that her house likewise very much reflects my parents' aesthetic and personality.  You get my father's intense quiet - and **need** for peace and quiet along with my mom's intensity.  Their house looks like a museum that people live in.  Sounds like an odd mix, but ... that's how it works.  Stark color combinations with comfortable furniture and incredible artwork.  Very minimalistic.  (I am of the school that finds stuff visually noisy.  The less stuff, the quieter and more peaceful the space). 

Interestingly, my parents do virtually all their hospitality in their backyard, which is spacious, surrounded by high green walls and full of flowers and birds.  The combination of space and noise and privacy makes for an excellent and welcoming room of hospitality.

In our home, we've done a bit of intentional decorating, but much of what's here seems to have migrated in, sat down and camped out. This is the room that I spend the most time in.  Can you see the places I've intentionally decorated, the places that have simply formed around my habits, and the odd bits of mess?  What mood does this room convey?  Can you tell anything about me from "my" public room?

You get something from this picture - but I get more.  Why?  Because I know which articles are here because I like them, which articles are here because my husband likes them, which articles are here for some purpose other than aesthetic pleasure (ex: the blue dog bed by my desk, which mostly keeps my dog from using the supports of my rolling chair as a pillow - with predictably bad results).  I even know which articles are here for sentimental reasons, and not because anyone likes looking at them at all! 

This room is the most put-together room in the house, probably... and that's something I'll be working on.  As I've cleaned things up and kept them clean, not only have the messes and "fixits" popped out at me (I spent Thursday of last week cleaning my cookbook shelf and filing) the things that aren't quite "right" also pop out.   As I consider that my home reflects the personality of those who live here, I can be more conscious of my decorative choices.  (That goes for outside too... and may motivate me to do more weeding).  I might need to have something within a certain radius - could I find a something that fits my aesthetic more closely?  Could I put it away in a drawer nearby?  How can function marry with form?

This is something to work on - I want a seamless home and self, that reflects who I am (and in the case of my home, who my husband is).  If something is saying something, I want it to say what I want it to say!

Snap some pictures of your own homes, and see what you love - and what needs to change.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spa Night: Oil Cleansing (for GBG)

On the recommendation of Girls Being Girls (, I thought I'd give oil cleansing a try.   This is my first time trying it, so I don't have results, but this is what I did.

Oil blend:  1 part Jojoba oil + 1 part grapeseed oil + 3 parts sunflower oil (this is what sounded nice that I had on hand).

I decided that this method ( practically begged for a proper spa night.  This may indicate to you how low-maintenance I am.  Don't tell my friend L, but I very frequently don't so much as wash my face before bed!  (I also rarely wear makeup).  (I am working on being higher maintenance, being 40 and all).

I ran a Epsom salt bath (  I've been trying to take a couple of these/week, as I don't get much magnesium.  (I don't eat wheat).  They're amazing for stress relief, although they can render you prone to really interesting dreams.  (I use about 3/4c of salt to a full bath, and I rinse after bathing).

Brought an extra bowl of hot-hot water in for the soaks.  Put some extra jojoba oil and heavy conditioner in my hair before I got started... why not. 

Followed directions, adding my upper chest (the bit that's bright red in my profile pic.  Welcome to the downside of being in the sun all.the.time.  It might go away if I wore turtlenecks) and my neck to the pile. 

Felt *really* amazing - all that circulation rubbing with the warm oil, then sitting and soaking in the humid air... very spa.  I was reminded of my occasional dry-brushing... same thing, circulation city.  Reminded me of my BFF's Okinawan mom, as she instructed us in skin polishing (although she uses cold-cream, which doesn't agree with me).  Maybe getting more blood flowing to my face would be a good thing?  I concentrated on the area under my eye, because I'm prone to extra fluid there.  Oh that was nice - I felt my sinuses clearing, just from the massage!  So was the rubbing over my jawline - I'm a clencher.  It's worth doing just for the face massage.  Srsly. 

It does seem to have loosened up some stuff in my cheeks that wanted clearing out.  I have dry skin there, and cheeks really liked it. 

Took a shower after, rubbed some of the leftover oil into my arms and legs.  Washed hair.  Did NOT rewash face for scientific purposes (I adore the soap we use, it's goatsmilk from my friend Fiberaddict, and it's *yummy* and kind to our skin, so nothing against that - I used that on the rest of me, lol). 

Drying off now...... face feels good.  I have some patches on my body that aren't happy with me, I think I might have to do more than just rinse off the salts.  I know they want more time to absorb, but my skin is prone to eczema, and... well.  Patches are bad. 

Loosened up a lot of stuff just under the skin, knots and whatnot.  Drinking a big (12oz) glass of lemon water.  I'm sure there are some waste products that want removing.

Will I do this again?  Yes.  I need to have more spa nights, and I need to reintroduce the dry brushing - it was good for the rest of my skin, even if I got a bit happy with my face.

 (Note:  drybrushing to get the fluids out from under your eyes, poor idea).   Pairing morning drybrushing with evening oilings might take my skin from decent to great.  And if I remember to actually put ON my makeup, I'll need a good skin-cleaning routine.  I think drybrushing, on whole, agreed with the rest of my body better than oil.  (Unsurprising.  You find northern Europeans drybrushing and Southerners generally doing the oil thing.  I am NW European mutt, and I have delicate skin that gets a ton of sun.  I eat well, and eat a fat-heavy diet... but I live in SoCal, which is semi-desert. My skin was spec'd out for Ireland or Sweden).

Them's the facts, ma'am.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Speed Cleaning: Day Three (And Spousal Selection Commentary)

Oh.  Well, this is going really well.

My house wasn't trashed to begin with, but I don't do a lot of clean-cleaning.  Or, I do - but I have a house full of kids and pets - and a husband that does outdoor work in the evenings, so my house nearly always has a real mess to clean up.  The "normal" amount of maintenance keeps things decent but not incredible.  You're all familiar with "the tasks expand to fill the time allotted them"?  Yes. 


First day:  I cleaned most of the day.  But when I say, "I cleaned" - I mean I CLEANED.  From the ceiling to the floor, dusting, getting the duster out for the walls, cleaning windows... etc.  It took all that time to get the main living areas of the house (and my very scary sewing area)  in good shape.

Second day:  I cleaned about three hours.  Hit both bathrooms, did the hallway, lightly caressed the bedrooms.  On the second day I made my life much easier by acquiring a new expandable duster.  Microfiber is much better at gathering dust than my old fuzzy duster - and I can wash it.   We have ceiling fans... this is not a luxury. 

Third day:  Have I mentioned how much I love the new duster?  I'm using it for everything!  It's great on bookshelves too.  :)  And it's weird how much brighter the house looks having dusted the walls.  Couldn't tell they were dusty... (yes, this is "woman clean" - you dust the walls).  I cleaned for a couple of hours today... getting close to the one hour goal, but not quite there.

At this point I can see the places in my house that need some focused attention - the cookbook shelf is scary, so is my pile of things-to-file.  I feel disgustingly luxurious... the house is REALLY clean.  It feels so open and nice... do I deserve to live here?  (Yes, this is a thing).

Here's a thought for your day:  I grew up in a house where no one really got much dirty.  We had two cats, my parents were both academics, and I'm an only child.  A once-a-week sweep up was enough.  Including laundry and dishes (by hand) I would say that there was less than 15 hours of housework done (not including cooking) per week.

I married a man who can fix virtually anything, and enjoys doing so.  He's messy!  He leaves his tools places, he doesn't bother to pick things up, and workboots?  Oh my.  Workboots track in a lot of dirt.   Right now our back yard has a corner carved out for the patio we're planning to put in.  You know what a dirt corner + a dog + workboots equals?  Very.Dirty.Floors.   I probably put in 15 hours/wk just on laundry and dishes (dishwasher) - without cleaning. 

But my husband can fix anything.  Sometimes he goes over to my folks' house and fixes things.   And he's lightning fast. 

So I could whine and complain and rant about his messiness.  Or I could stew about it.  Or I could do what I do, which is shake my head and clean up and not worry about it too much. 

Meanwhile, I'll work on figuring out efficient ways to keep this place sparkling without letting the job expand to fill my whole life.

Beauty Quotes: Stolen shamelessly from Sis

Sis says:
1. “The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn

2. “When you spend your days doing what fulfills you, you are attractive”. –Thomas J. Leonard

3. “Give me beauty in the inward soul; And may the outward and inward be at one.” – Socrates

4. ”To see beauty as the face of love rather than the arbitrary gift of fortune is… to enlarge our sense of life’s possibilities.” – Elizabeth Zetzel Lambert

5. “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka

6. ”Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” – Kahlil Gibran

7.”Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.” – Rosalind Russell

8.“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

9. “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” –Dorothy Parker

10. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Home Maintenance: Life Cycles: Balance

As I mentioned over at HHH... I asked God to make my home a blessed place full of beauty and peace, and got answered with a huge urge to clean.  Instead of portling along (I like to make up words, you'll get used to it) and tidying a bit here and there and making sure things stay decent, I was thrown the idea to speed clean.  I've hit this idea before, it always sounds good - I like getting boring things done so I can do real stuff, and cleaning qualifies as boring in my book.   But the pin had specific suggestions... and ONE of them made all the difference.

It's silly.  Really silly.  Because I've hit this idea before, never used it.  C'est la vie... you want the idea, right?  Get a laundry basket.  Get your cleaning supplies.  Go find a room.  Clean it top to bottom, chucking everything that doesn't belong in that room in the laundry basket.  I know, not rocket science.  But just doing that and NOT stopping to go put the stuff away?  Huge time saver.  Then when you're done with the cleaning, you put away the randomness.  (Or deploy your minions, since most of it happened to be *their* stuff). 

She had some specifics... I'll have to work it 'round to my own way of doing things and my own needs.  But having not just a pleasantly tidy house (you have enough pictures of my house ... it's always pleasant) but a properly clean house?  That's a good reward.  And if I'm to spend more time writing and sewing and teaching my short people... I need to start with my business taken care of so I don't feel guilty working on the good stuff.  (I feel guilty - I don't always do stuff about it, I just feel bad.  Better to power through and get on with life).

But powering on?  That's something kind of interesting that I have to work on.  I think I might (TMI alert, boys) be the most cyclic woman I know.  I don't do much in the way of PMS moodiness, excepting a predisposition to thinking people are speaking ill of me, but ... energy levels?  Interests?  Appetite? You can tell where I am on my cycle by checking my to-do list.  I range from "today is a good day to nap" to "I will do all the things!!!!!!!!"

So if I set myself up on a system where I do the same thing every day and that "same thing" is challenging... doesn't work.  Paradoxically, if I challenge myself, my "minimum standard" raises ever so gradually.  It's like ... well, going out for errands today.  On the one hand, I knew when my blood sugar was tanking and I needed to have lunch and a bit of rest.  Could I have pushed through?  Yes.  Would I have been obligated, should I have chosen to do so, to keep my temper with the kiddos AND behind the wheel?  Yes.  But... why stress myself out?  I was 10 minutes away from my home.  So I did the smart thing, came home and had lunch and a rest.  Then we finished up the rest of the errands, and I don't feel like disemboweling anyone.  Win!  I still got all the errands finished.  :)

Every part of life reflects that pull between pushing yourself to new things and knowing your limits.  I am balanced... if you consider a see-saw balanced.  ;) 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sewing: A summer dress of my own design

I'm pretty excited about this one.  Especially as, after my initial pre-belt try-on was a big fat fail, putting it on today and finding out that the belt inside makes all the difference.... I am one happy lady!
I have been making peasant blouses up this summer, and I was on my favorite fabric site, just chilling out, and lo and behold - they had some navy blue cotton gauze on sale.  I'd just snagged some denim-gauze for my daughter, and she was super pleased with the results. 
But when the gauze showed up - uh oh!  There were tiny eyelets all over it!  And it was more sheer than my daughter's gauze... there was no way I could make it up without a lining.  What's a girl to do?  I don't want lining or a slip in the middle of summer!!
Well, God is kind.  I was wandering through the back half of my favorite cheap fabric store, and I ran into some jade green (I am totally unreasonable about jade green) cotton organdy.  Sheer, light, and crisp - just the thing to line floppy sloppy gauze.  (I am past the moment in bodytime where I can pull off unstructured clothing). 
Here's how the two fabrics played together, up close.  (Pardon the cat fur etc, I gave my sewing room a good solid cleaning today ... and washed my dress before I wore it!)
Well, of course I had to get matching embroidery thread and put some detail work on there.... this is me!  /grin  (There is embroidery on the bottom two tiers where they join, at the hem, at the neckline, and on the hem of the sleeve).
Things I don't like - well, it's less fitted than I prefer, but it worked out.  I don't like the short sleeves, but I was out of fabric.  I didn't do the best job of figuring out what amount of skirt to make - I have a LOT of skirt.  Of course I like a lot of skirt, but it wouldn't work at all without the skirt-stay/belt.
Technical details:  It's this shirt (the elastic was my idea, the rest of the shirt is Butterick) slightly shortened to end up at a more figure-flattering spot.


Plus the bottom tiers of this skirt, again adjusted so the tiers start at a better/more flattering spot on my body.  No pattern here, but tiered skirts are big rectangles sewn together and gathered.  Difficult they are not.

I added a grosgrain ribbon waist stay inside the elastic at the waist.  I knew the weight of the skirt would pull the alignment off in a big way - I mean, look at the elastic waist with no weight at all dragging on it!  So, inside the elastic, there's essentially a belt - keeps everything where it ought to be, top and bottom.   I had to add a ribbon pull-tie at the top - the doubled fabric didn't gather the way the lighter cottons did (I really must learn to try things before I design around them!)  but it worked out okay.  It's not visible either.  :)
The green fabric is underlined to the blue - meaning I cut them together and basted them together prior to sewing everything. 
My 9yo decided she wanted to learn to use the sewing machine, so she sat next to me and played while I worked.  She made several aprons for her stuffies - and I let her put some of the embroidery on one of the skirt tiers.  She's so cute!

I've been working on this for a couple of weeks - have had the fabric for a couple of months, and have had it in my head for at least four.  I'm glad to finish it - and if it's not EVERYTHING I hoped for?  It's still pretty cute, it's well-made, and it's comfortable. 

Win.  :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

This changes everything

Unified Field Theory changes everything... and at the same time, doesn't really change things.

It explains and gives form and shape to that which I wish I am so utterly in love with.  It explains how to choose the right dress and how much energy to put into the front yard and ... it's like it ties everything together.

At the same time, this is the truth I have always loved.  I have always loved Beauty.  Now that I know what beauty really is, I don't have to struggle to define it.  I can understand my revulsion for some things and hunger for others.  I can make choices with more confidence. 

My head is held higher, and I am delighted.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Unified Field Theory of Beauty

God just gave me the most AWESOME insight.  Like, my head is spinning and I want to bounce around the house like a manic bunny rabbit. 

Beauty exists to connect the eyes and the heart, to show us the way to wonder. Wonder shows us the way to awe and to joy.

If your heart isn’t involved, if you’ve got not the slightest light of wonder or joy, it’s not beauty.

The point of the writing I'm doing, the point of a lot of - to be honest - futile effort is to help other folks fall as helplessly in love with beauty as I am.

I don't mean "beauty" as in makeup and hair and clothes.  I mean beauty.  The beauty that was called "Truth".  Beauty found in fine art and everyday sunsets.  Beauty in the smallest flower. 


Oh happyjoy!  If you realize that beauty exists to show you the path to wonder, you'll never worry about vanity.  Vanity is to show you the path to envy!


Beauty DOES exist to show us the way to God, because God made every bit of beauty there is!  Beauty shows us wonder and joy and we're supposed to feel awe and joy in the presence of God!

This is why Heaven is so beautiful (well, that and just 'cause God likes beauty).  It helps us along the way to the awe for the Creator. 


Beauty vs. Vanity

To be beautiful is to shine God's glory out through your skin.  To be vain is to grab for glory for yourself.

Evil is good, twisted.  Our enemy has no power to create, but corruption is his expertise.  When you see a beautiful flower, you know that God made it.  When you read Alice in Wonderland and hear the Queen of Hearts rail about the accidental planting of white rosebushes, because they aren't "her" color of rose... that's vanity. 

I feel like I dance on the precipice of vanity all the time.  Whenever I take pleasure in my own beauty, I wonder... am I being vain?  When I write about beauty, I wonder... should I write about honor instead?  Is it vain to care about loveliness?

But simply because something is easily perverted doesn't make it evil. 

God made this world beautiful, and Heaven is glorious.  I think He puts some value on it.  People care about beauty.  We gain information, we gain pleasure through the gates of our eyes.  Oh, so easily can we look at ugliness instead of beauty.  So easily can we grab beauty and twist it.  But though it is delicate, beauty has always represented the door to another land.

And since I am begging my Christian readers to call others out to our far Country, shouldn't I ask you to be beautiful? 

It's not like I think that you picked out your hair or eyes or cheekbones... then it *would* be a matter of taste, and you could brag about your superior sense of aesthetics.  But you were given your face.  You were given the body you have.  The choices you've made in life and the actions of entropy, they've shaped what you started with - but nothing can fundamentally change the raw materials. 

God gave all of us the blue of the sky.  No one can take that from you (unless they blind you).  It belongs to all of us.  To every one of us belongs the green of a leaf, the sound of the wind, the bright red of a rose. 

Your beauty is not simply in face or figure.  It is in every word you say, every gesture you make.  When you are kind - you are beautiful.  When you are honest - you are beautiful.  Grace is beautiful.  Sweet words are beautiful - and so are smiles.  (Have you noticed how hungry for smiles people have become?)

Inhabit beauty.  It's become so twisted these days - twisted into sensuality, twisted into vanity, twisted into showmanship - that it is the work of a child to take it back.  Simply be who God made you, offer back the best that you have been given, and take childlike pleasure in being a creation of the Master.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and let it shine.